Six simple ways you can protect yourself—starting today
Over the past decade, science has revealed the importance of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome as a cornerstone of human health. In fact, new research shows that some of the same probiotics found in our microbiomes today date all the way back to our Neanderthal ancestors.
But that research also offers a warning: It’s quite possible that there have been more changes to the GI microbiome during the past 100 years than there were during the 700,000 years preceding.
And those changes may be contributing to the current rise in chronic inflammatory diseases like dementia, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes.
The study was conducted as part of an archaeological dig at El Salt, located near Alicante, Spain.1 There’s evidence that Neanderthals resided in this area, before they mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth.
The researchers extracted DNA from coproliths (feces that fossilized and are preserved like stones) from the ancient site. And they discovered a variety of probiotics that are found in humans today—but that are increasingly disappearing in Western populations.
The researchers labeled some of these ancient microbes as “old friends” because of their ability to protect the health of our human ancestors all the way back to when the separation of modern humans from Neanderthals occurred about 700,000 years ago.
The researchers (and many other scientists) believe these ancient, essential probiotics are now disappearing from the modern microbiome for a number of reasons…
Dietary changes that emphasize probiotic-killing processed foods and artificial ingredients are a big culprit. So is mainstream medicine’s reliance on antibiotics, which wipe-out the probiotics in our gut.
Plus, our fixation with living in highly sanitized and sterile environments—and eating sanitized and pasteurized foods—is also reducing the diversity of the beneficial bacteria that naturally grow in our GI microbiome.
So, to help restore the diversity and health of our probiotics back to ancestral levels, I recommend doing the following:
- Eat a balanced diet of whole foods to nourish your entire body, including your microbiome.
- Cut out processed foods, refined carbs, and sugars—all of which poison probiotics.
- Eat prebiotic foods that feed your natural probiotics, including fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, apples, asparagus, avocados, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions, whole grains like barley and oats, and yogurt.
- Consider taking botanical supplements, like curcumin and ginger, or incorporate them into your home-cooked meals, as they help support metabolism in the GI tract, before sugar is absorbed into the blood.
- Skip the antibiotics, unless they’re absolutely necessary to help clear a serious, life-threatening infection.
- Say “no” to probiotic pills. They just don’t make sense, don’t work, and can be dangerous to your health.
(Next month, I’ll present some ground-breaking research on the microbiome and long-neglected lung health. So, as always, stay tuned!)
1“Components of a Neanderthal gut microbiome recovered from fecal sediments from El Salt. “Commun Biol 4, 169 (2021).